Tax filing made easy and progressive

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore logo seen on its building on Feb 16, 2017.
The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore logo seen on its building on Feb 16, 2017.PHOTO: ST FILE

Here are some new tax filing features and changes that were introduced recently to make the tax system more progressive.

FILE TAXES VIA IMPROVED MYTAX PORTAL

You can now file your returns via the improved myTax Portal, which now provides a quick overview of your tax filing status and summary of tax accounts, as well as shortcuts to popular e-services.

GETTING YOUR TAX BILL UPON FILING THE RETURN

A pilot group of 70,000 e-filers received their finalised tax bill immediately upon filing their returns this year.

Under this pilot, e-filers can get more certainty and know their tax payable for the year of assessment immediately.

Taxpayers on the Giro payment scheme will have their instalment payments based on their actual tax payments instead of a provisional instalment plan. This will also provide greater certainty on tax payments.

Iras aims to scale up this service progressively.

PROGRESSIVE TAX RATES

New personal income tax rates for individuals took effect from the 2017 year of assessment.

The highest rate is now 22 per cent, up from 20 per cent previously, for tax residents with annual chargeable income in excess of $320,000.

$80,000 TAX RELIEF CAP

The new cap of $80,000 on total personal income tax reliefs that a person can claim will take effect from the 2018 year of assessment.

Financial experts say the new relief cap will mainly affect high-income working mothers with two or more children who are claiming Working Mother's Child Relief (WMCR). Tax experts have estimated that it could affect about 20,000 people, mostly working mothers.

WMCR is the most substantial relief available. A working mother can claim up to $50,000 per child for Qualifying/Handicapped Child Relief and WMCR combined.

A total of 14 personal tax reliefs are available for those who meet the qualifying conditions. These include course fee relief and reliefs for taxpayers supporting parents/handicapped parents.

BE 2FA READY AND FILE ON TIME

Starting this year, the SingPass two-factor authentication or 2FA - a two-step verification - is required for users to file tax returns or view tax bills online. It can take up to 10 working days to set up a 2FA.

Each year, Iras reminds taxpayers, including sole proprietors and partners, to file their taxes on time and avoid late-filing penalties. Information on 2FA can be found at www.singpass.gov.sg/2FA.html or contact helpdesk@assurity.sg

Overseas users can e-mail osu@assurity.sg for assistance.

TAX FILING A NON-EVENT FOR MANY

In the recent tax season, 1.49 million taxpayers benefited from the no-filing service, about two out of every three taxpayers.

Those eligible for the no-filing service will get a tax bill between the end of April and next month. This is computed based on the taxpayer's auto-included income and previous year's relief claims subject to eligibility.

Even if you are selected to be on the no-filing service, the responsibility to ensure that you remain eligible for personal relief claims rests with you.

This means that you must submit a tax return if you have other sources of income besides that sent to Iras by your employer, or if you have changed employers during the year to one that is not on the Auto-Inclusion Scheme.

And note that if your relief claims differ from last year's, you need to file a return as well.

There are two options for those on the no-filing scheme. Taxpayers must inform Iras within 30 days of the date of receiving the tax bill if they have any income not shown in the bill or if the relief claims are incorrect.

Taxpayers can verify the details of their auto-included information and preview their tax bill at myTax Portal using their SingPass or Iras PIN during a specified period. If the data is accurate, you can request an early finalisation of your tax bill. But if the numbers are inaccurate, you can make changes by e-filing a tax return.

PRE-FILLED INCOME DATA

Some taxpayers confuse the Auto-Inclusion Scheme that records employment income with the no-filing scheme.

Employers only inform Iras how much an employee has earned. The taxman then pre-fills the amount in the tax return. This pre-filling service has been expanded to cover individual commission earners, including real estate and insurance agents.

Employees and commission earners still need to log in to mytax.iras.gov.sg to check the pre-filled information and relief details, claim any relevant expenses and submit a return unless they have been told they are on the no-filing scheme.

Lorna Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 27, 2017, with the headline 'Tax filing made easy and progressive'. Print Edition | Subscribe